Basic Trademark Information

(Information directly from NC Secretary of State Trademark Site)

How do I register a mark?

  1. You should use the trademark or service mark you want before you register it with the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State. There is no prescribed length of time that the mark must be used in North Carolina before you can register it.  You will, however, have to prove that you are currently using the mark before you will be allowed to register it with the Trademark Section.
  2. Make sure no one else has already registered the mark you intend to use. You can contact the Trademark Section to find out whether your mark has already been registered by someone else.
  3. You must file a complete, correct Application for Trademark or Service Mark Registration/Renewal (Form TM-01) along with three (3) original specimens of the mark you are registering and the $75.00 mark registration fee, which is non-refundable.

You do not necessarily have to have an attorney file your application, but we strongly encourage you to seek competent legal counsel of your own choice if you have any questions or concerns about registering your trademark. Please be sure to fill out the Application for Trademark or Service Mark Registration/Renewal (Form TM-01) completely and correctly. You will need to provide the following information for an initial mark registration:

  • Applicants name and address
  • Describe your mark
  • Describe the specific goods or services the mark will cover
  • Provide the date the mark was first used anywhere and the date it was first used in North Carolina
  • State that you own the mark

Trademarks and Service Marks Schedule of Fees

All fees are non-refundable.

Initial Registration Fee:
$75.00 per application

Renewal Fee:
$35.00 per mark

Assignment Fee:
$25.00 per assignment

Name Change Fee:
$10.00 per change

Certified copies:
$5.00 per page

$1.00 per page


What can’t be registered as a trademark or service mark?

Your application for trademark or service mark will be immediately rejected if your mark:

•  Consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive or scandalous material

•  Consist of or comprises matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons living or dead, institutions, beings or national symbols or bring them into contempt or disrepute

•  Consists of or comprises the flag or coat of arms or other insignia of the United States, or of any state or municipality or of any foreign nation or any simulation thereof

•  Consists of or comprises the name, signature or portrait of any living individual, except with his/her written consent

•  Consists of a mark which, when applied to the goods or services of the applicant, is merely descriptive of them or merely describes one or more of the characteristics or is deceptively mis-descriptive of them or falsely describes the nature, function, capacity or characteristics of them

•  Consists of a mark which, when applied to the goods or services of the applicant, is primarily geographically descriptive or deceptively mis-descriptive of them

•  Consists of a mark which is primarily merely a surname

•  Consists of or comprises a mark which so resembles a mark already registered in this state or a mark or trade name previously used in this state by another entity and not abandoned by that entity


Is there any way I can get into legal trouble with my mark?

Yes.  Here are some of the ways you can get yourself into legal trouble with trademark laws:

  • Fraudulent registration
  • Trademark infringement


How long does my registration last?

Once registered, a mark is effective for ten (10) years and may be renewed for subsequent ten (10) year terms so long as it continues in use in North Carolina. Please note, however that after the expiration of five (5) years following initial or renewal registration, you must submit a specimen to the Trademark Section showing evidence of current use of the mark, as well as a signed statement verifying the use of the mark. Our office provides each of these forms and their use is mandatory.

For additional information, please consult the NC Secretary of State Trademark Division website.